Archive for the ‘Language’ Tag

called to be different

I love today’s first reading because it contains one of those verses that is just so much more meaningful when it is read in Hebrew! I am always telling my students to learn Hebrew, and they mostly laugh at me and think I am a Bible geek, but really, there is so much meaning in this beautiful ancient language.

In today’s first reading, God tells Moses “Speak to the whole assembly of the children of Israel and tell them:  Be holy, for I, the LORD, your God, am holy.”  Poor Moses, always charged with delivering these tall orders to the Israelites.  No wonder he had such a temper.

When I think of a “holy” person, I think of someone who prays a lot, someone who is close to God. A person who obeys the Commandments, maybe, a person who is kind and loves everyone they meet. To be honest, holiness, to me, seems at times to be an unattainable goal. Holy people certainly aren’t impatient, type-A personalities who worry all the time, right?

But here, the Hebrew saves me from my own preconceived notions of holiness.

The Hebrew word for holy, qadosh, does not mean righteous, pious, perfect, or anything of the sort. It means “set apart for a distinct purpose.”   When I think of that definition of holy, I see something attainable. I believe that God calls each one of us to be qadosh, that is, set apart for a distinct purpose—to know, to love, and to serve God.   I certainly don’t always know what my distinct purpose is.  But, when I think of holiness in its true form, I realize suddenly that being “holy” is attainable. I can be holy even in my failures, even in my brokenness. I am holy each day as I strive to be patient, to be a good wife, daughter, sister, friend, teacher—even when I fail.

So when you feel like you aren’t “holy” enough, think again. God has created each of us to be qadosh—set apart, different, for a specific purpose.  And that is a beautiful thing.

Bob Rice

Catholic speaker, musician, author, teacher

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